Russia Detains U.S. Citizen Accused of ‘Treason’ for Donating to Ukrainian Charity

( – A US citizen has been arrested by Russian security officers while visiting her family. The 33-year-old dual national is facing treason charges for allegedly funding the Ukrainian military. Her real crime was making a small donation to a New York-based charity.

Russia Targets Dual National

Ksenia Karelina was born in Yekaterinburg, in southern Russia, but has lived in the US for years after visiting Maryland on a work-study program. She married an American in 2013 and became a US citizen in 2021, but also held on to her Russian citizenship. She now works in the spa of a hotel in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles. In January, she returned to Yekaterinburg to visit her parents, who had recently divorced; unfortunately, that turned out to be a bad decision.

On February 20, Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), the successor to the Soviet-era KGB, announced it had arrested Karelina on treason charges. The FSB said she was arrested at the end of January and was charged with treason on February 7. According to the agency, since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, she’s been raising money to buy “tactical medicine items, equipment, weapons and ammunition” for the Ukrainian military. However, the detailed charges against her only mention one donation of $51.80 to Razom, a charity based in New York. Razom says it sends first-aid supplies to Ukraine but has never purchased or sent weapons or ammunition.

The FSB’s allegation is puzzling. The amount Karelina supposedly donated, $51.80, is an unusual amount; most people making a donation of this size would give $50. It’s also a mystery how the FSB would know she’d made a donation at all. Razom complies with US privacy laws, meaning it doesn’t make lists of its donors public. Either the FSB is making up the allegation, or there’s a Russian agent inside the charity.

International Extortion

Putin’s regime has a history of arresting US citizens and using them as bargaining chips. In 2022, basketball player Brittney Griner was arrested on drug charges at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport. Although she was unquestionably guilty, Putin was able to pressure President Biden into releasing notorious arms dealer and suspected Russian military intelligence agency Viktor Bout in exchange for freeing her.

US journalist Evan Gershkovich is currently in pretrial detention on espionage charges. Disgraced ex-US Marine Paul Whelan has been in a Russian jail since 2016, again for alleged espionage. Now, it looks like Karelina is the latest American citizen to fall foul of Putin’s unscrupulous methods.

~Here’s to Our Liberty!

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